The former editor of the Daily Mirror, Piers Morgan, right, was under intense pressure last night, after Sir Paul McCartney's ex-wife claimed a journalist had bragged to her about hacking sensitive voicemail messages left on her phone.
Heather Mills said she received a call from an executive at Mirror Group Newspapers in 2001, "quoting verbatim" voicemails left by the ex-Beatle after the couple had a row.
Mr Morgan has always said he knew nothing about phone hacking, but the voicemails appear to be the same as those he later admitted hearing. In a 2006 newspaper article, Mr Morgan referred to hearing a recorded message that Sir Paul had left for Ms Mills while she was away in India.
Mr Morgan wrote: "At one stage I was played a tape of a message Paul had left for Heather on her mobile phone. It was heartbreaking. The couple had clearly had a tiff, Heather had fled to India and Paul was pleading with her to come back. He sounded lonely, miserable and desperate and even sang 'We Can Work It Out' into the answer phone."
Last night Ms Mills said: "There was absolutely no honest way that Piers Morgan could have obtained that tape that he has so proudly bragged about unless they had gone into my voice messages." But the journalist who contacted her was not Mr Morgan, she said.
Ms Mills told BBC's Newsnight she already suspected her voicemail had been intercepted before she was contacted.
"He [the journalist] said: 'I hear you've had a big argument with your boyfriend', and I said: 'Why would you know this?' And he started quoting verbatim the messages from my machine," she said.
"I wondered why [my messages] had already been listened to when it said 'heard messages'. And he started laughing and I said: 'Why are you laughing?' I said: 'You've obviously hacked my phone and if you do anything with this story... I'll go to the police'."
In a statement issued through CNN, Mr Morgan said: "The BBC has confirmed to me that this executive was not employed by the Daily Mirror." He added that in the divorce case, Justice Bennett wrote of Ms Mills: "Much of her evidence... [was] less than candid. She was a less than impressive witness."
The parent group Trinity Mirror, which publishes the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People, said all its journalists work within the law.Reuse content